I just got back from a concert by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame). It was interesting to say the least. He has come a long way since the punk-filled days with the Heads. There is no longer the distinctive edge, the roughness, that was very prevalent in the early days. The caustic wit is still evident in his lyrics, but this is camouflaged by his polished demeanor. And thus it fits the fact, unfortunately, that he played at the GWU Lisner Auditorium instead of a dark, dingy, and smoky club.
The acoustics at Lisner are pretty decent, but the atmosphere sucks (it's extremely formal---like sitting in an ancient theatre) and the crowd wasn't very lively either. As my friend Jan commented they were mostly the artsy pseudo-intellectual types. If you were there and if you take offense, I'm sorry, but the crowd didn't really get moving until the encores began. Until then most of them didn't budge from their seats while Byrne went through tunes like Back in a Box (my favourite off of his new album), You and Eye, Road to Nowhere, Psychokiller, A Long Time Ago, and Crash.
He came on stage wearing a sportscoat (looked formal too and I was beginning to have second thoughts about the concert) and played a song off the new self-titled album. He then played a few others, but while this was good, it was starting to bore me a bit. It was almost like he was treating this as a job! He then took off his jacket and loosened up a bit as he announced: "this is a song about a girl I knew in high school who did a lot of acid", and proceed to perform And She Was. At this point, I decided to stop sitting and moved to the back where I could move around. This was the turning point that ended up making the concert experience, at least for me, a very worthwhile and enjoyable one!
Byrne, as Jan remarked, was never a great singer, but he comes off very well these days. His earlier days with the Heads were very dissonant and this helped further the message in his lyrics. But with his suaveness, it seemed that most of his lyrics went unheeded, though it did elicit a few responses from the crowd once in a while. He played a lot off of the new album, some of his earlier solo stuff, and some stuff he did while he was with Talking Heads. I never realised how talented a guitarist he was and it is evident when you see him live.
To give the crowd credit, they did seem to enjoy him in their own way. He was cheered a lot and he came for 3 encores (this is the second time I've seen it happen; only other band I've seen that has come back for 3 is Primus)! Of course, this is a farce because if they actually turned the auditorium lights on, people would leave. But I guess this was considered okay since he was the only performer. All in all, it was a very good concert! I did get some headbanging (some of his punkish roots stand out in the newer stuff) in and my neck hurts a bit. Dana Carvey, after rehearsing the headbanging scene for Wayne's World 2 and developing an headache, said "headbangers are my heroes", but I digress...